Darlene Guggisberg, 87 of Battle Lake passed away on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, at Pillar’s Hospice Home in Oakdale, Minnesota, after a 4 ½ year battle with MDS.
Darlene Cordelia (Fixsen) Guggisberg was born June 13,1932, in Sheridan Township, rural Redwood County, Minnesota, to Orman Bernard “O. B.” Fixsen and Margery Elizabeth (Swartz) Fixsen. As a young farm girl, the oldest of 8 children, she learned to cook, bake, sew, and drive tractor in the fields and other tasks at a very young age.
Darlene completed her first eight years of schooling in a two-room schoolhouse, with no indoor plumbing, in Seaforth, Minnesota. A good student and avid reader, Darlene won the Redwood County spelling championship in 8th grade.
Darlene graduated valedictorian from Wabasso High School in 1950. Her high school years were filled with activities, especially speech and drama. She was editor of the school paper and the Senior Yearbook.
Dreams of college were pushed aside, when friends introduced her to the love of her life, Ray Guggisberg. They were married September 12, 1950, in Trinity Lutheran Church, Willow Lake Township, near Sanborn, Minnesota. She never gave up her love of learning and instilled a love of reading and learning in her children and grandchildren at an early age. Her grandchildren sometimes addressed letters to “Grammar” Guggisberg because she did not hesitate to correct their speech.
Ray and Darlene farmed with Ray’s parents near Wanda, Minnesota and then purchased and moved to a dairy farm in Otter Tail County, near Amor, in 1956. Those were long challenging days, with four preschoolers and no running water, doing laundry with a wringer washer, growing a huge garden, canning hundreds of jars of vegetables, cleaning milking equipment and more.
In 1960 Ray and Darlene sold the Amor farm and bought and moved to a farm in Evergreen Township, Becker County, Minnesota. While living there, they became very active with the youth group at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Corliss Twp. Many still remember the excellent youth choir assembled and directed by Darlene.
In 1961, an opening became available for a United Farm Agency Real Estate office in the area. The Guggisberg’s spent part of 1961 and part of 1962 transitioning from farming to full time real estate, first in Fergus Falls and then in Battle Lake, selling the cattle, farm equipment and farm in 1962. United Farm was known for its nationwide catalog, which was well advertised in every farm magazine. United preferred offices to be located in the home. Before the advent of personal computers or cell phones, communication was by mail and land line telephone, with travelers coming from all parts of the United States, traveling with the United catalog, looking to relocate. The Guggisberg’s served many meals to travelers and even met one North Dakota buyer at the railroad station in Fergus Falls, fed him supper, provided a bed for the night and breakfast. After finding and purchasing a farm, he returned to North Dakota by train.
United also had an extensive folder mailing program, sending sheets of name and address labels of people, who had inquired about the area. Folders, featuring properties for sale, were inserted inside a cover folder, containing information about the Otter Tail County area. The Guggisberg children (and some of their friends) spent many hours helping to assemble, staple and put address labels (which had to be moistened-no gummed labels) on the thousands and thousands of folders.
Sales were not handed over to a “closer”, and the Guggisberg’s handled their own closings, often spending long hours obtaining documents to correct titles. One Fergus Falls attorney commented that Darlene Guggisberg had “the sharpest legal mind” of any real estate agent he had known.
Due to bad management practices, after the death of the founder, United Farm Agency filed bankruptcy in the 1980s. Darlene moved the office out of the home and became a broker with United Farm’s successor, United National Real Estate, until her retirement in 1995.
Darlene was an excellent cook and baker, especially known for her variety of yeast breads and rolls and her flaky pie crusts. She was also a meticulous seamstress, sewing hundreds of garments from tailored to casual to formals and wedding dresses for her family and herself.
As a child, Darlene attended church and Sunday school at the Presbyterian church in Seaforth. Shortly after her marriage, she took instruction and was baptized and confirmed as a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Willow Lake Township, rural Sanborn, Minnesota. She was very active in church, teaching Sunday school and involved in other activities. The Guggisberg children knew they were expected to get up and attend church with their parents every Sunday, as long as they lived at home.
The Guggisberg’s were instrumental in attempting to start an LCMS Lutheran church, “Life in Christ,” in Battle Lake, Minnesota, renting the Senior Citizen’s Center on Sunday mornings. Darlene did all the secretarial work, including preparing Sunday bulletins. She was also responsible for finding substitute pastors and accompanists. She taught Sunday school, well into her seventies, and baked “goodies” for fellowship every Sunday.
She is survived by her loving husband, Ray, of 69 years, her children Chad (Joyce) Guggisberg, Connie Johnson, Marcia (Peter) Eggen and Delia (Doug) Whitcomb, her grandchildren and great grandchildren Jennifer (Rich) Samec (Maja and Chloe), Emily (Clayton) Zeidler (Jillian, Vienna, and Genevieve), Louisa (Jason) Scorich, Lara (Pat) Kempen, Mairin (Adam) Heath, (Lawson and Myles), Jesse (Shauna) Johnson (Conner, Isabelle and Lenora), Jake (Lindsey) Johnson (Colton and Tate), Thor (Vanessa) Eggen (Hayden), Dr. Eli Eggen, Darcy (Ted) Frederickson (Jack and Grace), Brady (Andrea) Whitcomb (Sebastian and Lachlan), siblings Rebecca Sonnick, Brenda (Norman) Ousky, Orman (Sandy) Fixsen, Kathleen Hupalo, and John Fixsen, brothers-in-law Yvo Jenniges and Vernon (Pat) Guggisberg. She was preceded in death by her father, mother, son-in-law Bruce Johnson, sisters Gertrude Jenniges and Eva (Jay) Rangaard.
Funeral service is Tuesday, November 5 at 11 am at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Henning, MN.
Visitation will be Monday, Nov 4 from 4-7 pm at Glende-Nilson Funeral Home, Battle Lake, MN and will continue at the church one hour before services.
Burial will be at 3 pm on Nov 5 at Lakewood Cemetery, Battle Lake, MN.